How to Choose the Right Bandsaw Blade
NOTE: Choosing the right bandsaw blade depends on many factors; including type of bandsaw, condition of bandsaw, what material is to be cut, and how the material will be cut. It is impossible for one blade to work well for every purpose. Some applications need special blades for best results. If you are having trouble getting satisfactory results in cutting different materials, please call toll free 1-800-356-9918. Our knowledgeable technicians will be glad to assist you.
There are 3 steps to choosing the right blade:
Step 1 - Choose a Product: What Type of Bandsaw do you Have?
Step 2 - Choose a Width: How Tight do you Need to Turn?
Step 3 - Choose a Tooth Pattern: What are you Cutting?
STEP 1 - CHOOSE A PRODUCT: WHAT TYPE OF BANDSAW DO YOU HAVE?
METALCUTTING BANDSAWS: Use Carbon Tool Steel or Bimetal Blades
Small to large, horizontal or vertical, metalcutting bandsaws use either Carbon Tool Steel or Bimetal bandsaw blades. Carbon Tool Steel blades are more economical to purchase. Carbon Tool Steel blades will cut mild steel if used at speeds under 200 feet per minute (fpm) for best results, preferably with coolant. If you are sawing in a production setting, your saw is in good repair and adjusted correctly, and want the longest life blade available, then you should use Bimetal bandsaw blades. Bimetal blades cost more than carbon blades, but are generally more economical to operate in the long run, because they can outlast carbon blades by up to 10 times if used properly. Also, they are capable of cutting harder materials, such as stainless steel.
WOODCUTTING BANDSAWS: Use Carbon Tool Steel, Premium Gold Carbide, or Specialty Resaw
Vertical woodcutting bandsaws from 10” and up will use Carbon Tool Steel blades for most sawing needs. Our Premium Gold carbide impregnated blades are designed to be used either in heavy production or by craftsmen who demand the very best blade available. Our Premium Gold carbide impregnated blades are extremely fast cutting with the longest life of any woodcutting blades we offer - they are quickly becoming the most used and prized blades in the shops of serious woodworkers. Our WoodSaver thin kerf, carbide impregnated resaw blades are specially designed for resawing expensive hardwoods when conserving material is very important. Our Hawc Pro resaw blades are best for general resawing. They cut fast due to their aggressive set and tooth design, and they work well in more inexpensive woods. NOTE: Your owner’s manual may say that your woodcutting bandsaw can cut metal, but woodcutting bandsaws can only cut soft metals, such as aluminum, brass, copper, etc. Cutting steel could damage your saw, due to the fact that blade speed on most woodcutting bandsaws (average 800 to 3500 fpm) is not slow enough (40 to 200 fpm) for cutting ferrous metals (i.e. steel). Trying to cut steel at woodcutting speeds will ruin the blade due to the extreme heat produced.
SMALL 2 AND 3 WHEEL TABLETOP WOODCUTTING BANDSAWS: Use "The Three Wheeler" Blades
Small tabletop saws with 2 or 3 wheels need a very thin blade, such as our "Three Wheeler" bandsaw blades. The challenge with these saws is that the wheels are so small that a standard thickness blade flexes beyond proper tolerances when it travels around these small wheels, thereby shortening blade life. “The Three Wheeler” bandsaw blades are designed to withstand this extreme flexing and will give you the longest life on these saws.
STEP 2 - CHOOSE A WIDTH: HOW TIGHT DO YOU NEED TO TURN?
Horizontal metalcutting bandsaws are typically designed to use only one width of blade. Vertical metalcutting bandsaws and woodcutting bandsaws have the capacity to run a wide range of widths. Here are some minimum turning circle diameters for our most common blades:
STEP 3 - CHOOSE A TOOTH PATTERN: WHAT ARE YOU CUTTING?
There is a wide range of what is considered correct for tooth patterns on a woodcutting bandsaw. The general rule is that fewer teeth per inch provide a faster, but rougher cut; and more teeth per inch provide a smoother, but slower cut.
The correct tooth pattern for metalcutting is determined by the thickness (cross-section) of material you are cutting. There should be between 2 and approximately 10 teeth in contact with the material at all times. Generally, choose fewer teeth per inch for thicker materials and more teeth per inch for thinner materials. The chart below will give you some basic guidelines for choosing the correct number of teeth per inch.
Solids vs. Structural Shapes:
It is simpler to determine the correct tooth pattern for solids than for structural shapes. Structural shapes such as square tubing and angle pieces need to be cut at the correct angle to keep the teeth in contact with the thinner portion of the cut. For example, if you are cutting a piece of 4” angle with a 1/4” wall, you should match the tooth pattern to the 1/4” thickness (10-14 Variable or 14 Raker) and not to the 4” thickness (3-4 Variable or 3 Hook). Therefore, the 4” angle should be placed in the saw so it sits as a pyramid instead of an “L.” The following diagrams show the correct orientation for cutting various structural shapes.
Stack cutting should always be avoided where possible, because regardless how the material is clamped in the vise there will always be varying thicknesses to cut and you cannot match teeth properly. Also, vibration is a major problem when stack cutting - if you must stack cut, make sure to tack-weld the ends and band the stack together as tightly as possible to reduce vibration or movement between the pieces.